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The Last Shuffleboard Tournament on the Titanic: Memoirs of My WBC 2012
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Sunday, August 5th. 7 AM.

I can't even sleep any more. The week is just a blur.

Most events are done, gaming is closing down for the week. Soon, the realization that I'll be going back to my day-to-day life. In another month, the school year starts anew and I'll be faced with the challenges and rewards that come with being a teacher.


I type this on Monday morning, home from a week's stay in Lancaster for the 7th time. The wife and son are still in Austin; I'll be picking them up from the airport, we'll retrieve the dogs from the kennel a day later, and WBC 2012 will soon fade from immediate memory.

My number one priority was as it had been every year: to claim that elusive first victory in an event. I GM Caylus, and consider myself fairly strong at Agricola and Le Havre (two events that I made final table at last year, in addition to Caylus). And then there's the 'out of nowhere' games like Macao, which sadly didn't return this year.

What follows are the memories, successes and failures of my WBC experience. Those who are curious as to my previous exploits can check any of the following:

WBC 2011
WBC 2010
WBC 2009
WBC 2008
EQ 2007
WBC 2007
WBC 2005
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1. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:1527]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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As seems to be the norm, there's never enough time to play everything one wants to play. Here's a list of my most regrettable misses:

El Grande AND Power Grid: every year, these two events square off against each other at 6pm on Tuesday night (and seem to compete with each other throughout the Con). This year, Goa (a late re-addition) got slotted for the same time slot, and I chose it over both the others.

Brass: I probably could have squeezed this in once, but I just didn't 'feel it' this year. Maybe I'll go back to it next year.

Princes of Florence: a game I'll never consider myself strong in (though I did beat Alex in a club game not too long ago ... I should've taken a picture, so it'd last longer), but one I would have played given the time.

Ra: four heats ... and every one of them conflicted with something. The second straight year I failed to get a game in, despite the successes I've had (two final tables, including a 2nd). I also missed out on Ra: Dice.

Puerto Rico: the first time in my seven years of attendance that I was unable to play even a single heat of this game. I missed out on the third heat due to the lateness of the Caylus games that took place in the hours before PR's start.


Still waiting for scientists to perfect human cloning for weeks like this.
 
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2. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:171]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Historically, I've started out slow at the WBC. Rarely have I had more than a single heat win during the Monday and Tuesday events. Things would be very different for me this year ...but not for this game.

Since the beginning of last year, I've kept a gaming journal; as such, I asked to see the scoring sheet after everyone filled it out. I learned that one of my opponents was one John Brier, a.k.a:

John Brier
United States
Aventura
Florida
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The funny thing was, I knew who he was while he had no idea who I was, until I mentioned my online screenname.

"OH, THAT'S YOU!"

Pretty cool moment, and it was great to finally meet John face-to-face. We agreed to get some open gaming in for Tuesday, though I focused on tourney games come 6pm.

As for our game ... some things never change. No camel spaces came out the first auction, and neither did the two 'cash' spaces (though Dakhla did show up), so I took Buto for free and bid 3 while thinking, there's no WAY that three people steal this round ... which is EXACTLY what happens. Then it happens again on the following round.

By the end of the first round, I'm cash-poor and fail to get more than 7 points at the halfway mark. I did make two power cards late (getting very lucky with the order that the provinces came out in the second half), and somehow edged two others for 3rd, but still lost by a lot, 37-36-29-27-25.

John probably 'should' have won, given his early money advantage ... but the provinces that were pyramid-filled all showed up in the final round, negating that advantage. He lost by a point to Peter Staab.

I would not make another heat.
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3. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:48]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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I set a personal record this year: I won heats in three games without even showing up for the semifinal!

To be fair, though, one win was never going to be enough for a game as popular as this. And even if I did somehow make it in, advancement heats would conflict with my schedule. So I don't give it much thought.

I was able to add this game to the list of 'games where I've won at least one heat at the WBC'. I was fortunate enough to get two farms quickly (along with a farm multiplier), then got the ever-popular '3 hut multiplier' card and started to go for those. When other players started blocking me on those avenues, I found tools falling to me at an alarming rate ... and then I started getting 'tool multipliers' to boot. I ended up with 8 tools at 7x (or maybe it was 7 tools at 8x, I forget which) and rolled up a personal best 205 to win easily; the other scores were 173, 161, and 138.

One and done for me here.
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4. Board Game: Vinhos [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:191]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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I was able to get in touch with John for Tuesday, expressing an interest in playing this game before tournament heats started up again. Before I saw him, I saw another man setting up a copy of the game. He did not know the rules, so I taught him how to play before moving on. When I joined up with John and his friends, I taught a couple of them how to play before we started.

Not too bad, considering that I never actually played the game before. (I read through the rules several times before coming to the Con. A likely future purchase, I think.)

'Those who can't do, teach.' Such must be the case, as I finished a distant 3rd to John in the one game we did play, 98-76-68-61.

I know someone in my gaming group who has it (that's actually how I learned about the game), and hope to play it more in the near future.
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5. Board Game: Macao [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:154]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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I finished a surprising 3rd last year in this tournament, and was rather disappointed that the game got dropped this year (for reasons I shall not go into at this time). But the four of us who played Vinhos also got this game on the table.

I had some unfortunate die rolls, and took a -3 along the way, en route to a 71-65-61-58 finish. Still, it was great to get a game of that in at the Con. Maybe at some point it will return. I can only hope. (As I do not own a copy, asking to GM it probably would not be such a good idea.)
 
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6. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:52]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Goa made its return to the WBC this year ... but my previous successes would not be along for the ride. I was only able to play one heat, and drew Jeff Meyer at my table. (For those unfamiliar, he won last year's Caylus final, beating me twice in the process.) I fared well, getting to the bottom of the ships and colonists tracks, but only got my card track down late (and only to the 3rd row) and ran out of actions. Jeff went with the tried-and-true spice/card combo (snagging 8 ships with a 'special harvest' at one point) and won, 54-46-33-30.

Jeff would later make the final table ... a game that I caught the very end of, and featured a near 3-way tie for the win! But that's a tale for someone else to tell.
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7. Board Game: Le Havre [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:13]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Every year, I like to focus on three particular events: this one, Agricola, and Caylus. I qualified for the finals in all three last year, and hoped to build on that success. And early on, it looked like I'd be able to do so.

I played in Heat 1 Tuesday night, and had a reunion of sorts by playing two people who I played against last year: Rob Flowers (Heat 1 last year) and Chris Senhouse (SF last year). I started slow but never actually took a loan (the others went into debt early and often), finished strong, and won rather comfortably, 189-140-137-136.

I did not need to play in the second heat, and offered to help Ken Horan out by GMing without playing for that heat (we are each others' assistants for this game and Caylus) ... but the heat needed another warm body at the last second, and I played a 3-player game where I was able to snap up most of the 'strong' buildings (Colliery, Cokery, Steel Mill) and grab enough ships to win again, 254-211-201. The SF round started immediately after.

I had some familiar faces for this heat: Rob Murray (a recent addition to the EPGS fold) and Bronwen Heap (a regular at WBC, who I've played many times), along with Nick Vayn. Nick and Bronwen took loans very early; I avoided that at the beginning but soon caught up to them ... and I couldn't get out of debt fast enough! By the time I was able to extricate myself from financial disaster, Nick was on his way to amassing ships of steel and getting large shipments out. I finished a distant 2nd, 185-156-142-98. My second was not close enough to make the final ... or even finish in the Top 6! (Also, the 2nd time in 3 years that I lost to someone named 'Nick' in the SF round; I fell to Nick Page two years ago, and finished behind him at the final table last year. And I'm not done with 'Nicks' this year!)

The shocker came when two-time champion Dan Eppolito finished 3rd in his game, finishing behind Nick Page and Chris Senhouse; the latter of which made the final as 'high 2nd'. It would be Nick Page's third straight final appearance ... and third straight non-win. In fact, both Nicks AND Chris fell to ...

... Ken! He picked up his first ever tournament win in the process! (Congrats, dude! Now I have one MORE person to be jealous of!)
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8. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:23]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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I played two heats of this on Wednesday morning. That was one memorable morning!

Sometimes, destiny simply calls on you to play certain cards; in this case, one card kept smashing me over the head to play it!

Partway through my first heat, I draw the 'Galactic Rennaissance' (essentially the 'Customs House' of RftG, earning you additional VPs for your consumption points). I didn't really see myself playing this card (I rarely do), so I used it to pay for something else. After the first reshuffle of the discard pile, I end up getting the card back ... and it's the only '6' development I see for most of the game.

Well, I think, if you're going to be so stubborn with me ...

I play the card and shift to a 'consume-produce' engine. I end up getting 20 VPs on shipping by game's end (adding 6 for the GR card), and finish with a personal best 52 points to win by twelve, the other scores being 40, 23, and 14.

Then it got weird.

For this game, two heats are played back-to-back; as such, we redraw for tables. (I don't have my own set.) I draw the same table I was just at, but the GM says that's OK. The player who owns that set, though, wasn't quite all right.

Simply put: he wanted NO PART of me at his table! He eventually went over to the GM to settle the matter, and I ended up at another table.

I didn't mind; I found the whole episode to be rather amusing. (This is NOT a game that I consider myself an expert at.)

That guy may have known something that I didn't, as the exact same thing happened to me in my second game: I got GR early, tossed it, then redrew it. This time I played it when I had the Tourist World (2 goods for 3 VPs) and Epsilon Eridani (with a card+VP consume power) ... and my RHO had the Trendsetters (1 good for 2 VPs) and was following a similar strategy as me. To top it off, I also got the 'New Economy' card (points for cards with consume powers).

I racked up 30 VPs in shipping alone, and finished with a whopping SIXTY-FOUR! (Yes, I went there: I used text instead of just saying 64.) The others had 45, 43, and 29.

Two games, the same card to jumpstart the process, 50 points combined in shipping, and 116 points total in the two games!

I'm fairly sure I would have qualified for some sort of advancement heat, but I never had the chance to follow through; I was booked up for much of the early part of the Con.
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9. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:214]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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I didn't even include this game on my itinerary this year ... but Dan Eppolito pointed out to me that we had an hour before the first Agricola heat (we had both just finished a heat of Yspahan) and convinced me to get a game of this in. We got there so late that we ended up playing each other, along with one David Metzger, in a three player game that actually took place in an adjoining room.

The one detail I remember most is how the game began: David scored one point for his play, I got two for my play of a double ... and Dan played a mismatching tile for zero points, something I never saw before in a game. (In essence, he was playing for an early 'closed' game with low scoring; I never thought to play that way before.) We each got a couple Ingeniouses during the game, which I eked out by getting to at least 11 on all colors (Dan had a 10 left, and David had a 9).

I would not play this again, though I would be exposed to it in an unexpected way later in the Con.
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10. Board Game: Yspahan [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:285]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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I missed out on the 'Mulligan' round this year (my Le Havre heat went over two hours), but I was able to play the Wednesday heat that preceded Agricola (see the above entry). I have never had any success with this game before, but I was told that the key to the game lies with the caravans. So I went for those, along with Perrianne Lurie (who was across from me; we've met in heats many times previously).

We each had a lucky roll at one point, rolling four 1s to get 5 camels ... and we each had one big score on the caravans at the end of a round. I was behind for most of the game, but made my big score in the last round (when I was able to choose dice first) and ended up edging past Perrianne, 86-82-68-68. Unlike with RftG, I was able to play the SF heat that took place right before Can't Stop.

I didn't have quite the success in this game (a 3-player game, where only the winner would move on); all three of us fought for the caravan during the game. On one particular exchange, I thought I was going to place a cube on the all-important third row of the caravans (it was my 4th cube) ... but after I committed to the move, someone noticed that we had missed a camel in the 2nd row. This cost me 3 points (+1 for the middle row, but -4 for getting 8 instead of 12 once they scored), as the others filled up the 3rd row before I had a second chance. I don't think it made a difference, as my RHO was able to score 8 points off a timely 'camels for points' card at the end; he was able to win, 97-91-86.
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11. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:477]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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I don't always play this game; I wouldn't have this year if I didn't make the Yspahan SF (which started at the same time as the first heat of Princes of Florence; the latter conflicted with this game). I sat with three female friends and watched as two of them (goaded on by the GM) raced up the 12, then the 6, all on one set of rolls each. (My RHO wasn't so fortunate; she started the game but fell every time.) I did snag the 8, but an untimely fall late sealed my fate. One and done.
 
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12. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:272]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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My family was out of town for the weekend, and actually wouldn't return until Monday afternoon ... so I made plans to stop at a local casino on the way home this year. Considering what happened to me playing this, I probably should have just stayed away.

I have really grown to love this game, and I was excited that I would be able to play all three heats this year. The first heat took place Monday night; I was in one of two 5-player games. I had a strong showing, but got beat by my LHO (who benefitted from a late Steakhouse), 63-59-50-48-42. I was told by the GM that finishing 2nd in a 5-player heat had some added weight for purposes of calculating alternates, and with two heats to go, I still felt I'd have a good chance of qualifying.

The next heat was Wednesday morning, right after the first two RftG heats. I started 4th, with 'Good Relations' the first event (you must outbid by two); that was probably a bad omen (though certainly not a gamebreaker). I got a lot of slots early, but never saw the associated event cards until it was way too late. (I did myself no favors with my slot placements; I actually have to Renovate twice in a three-turn span to correct some mistakes, costing me a couple points.) My RHO ended up with early Restaurants, but got a lot of help with the event cards and won a close one (for the others), 69-68-62-55. It would prove to be only my 2nd DFL at the Con, and the only one that took place in a tournament game.

The final heat took place Thursday morning, and I drew Sceadeau D'Tela for this 5-player game. 'Ad Campaign' came out right off the bat, and it's been drilled in my head (by Alex) that, if you can, you always pay $10 for 5 VPs. (In an EPGS game a month earlier, the same thing happened and I decided NOT to pay. Unfortunately, I have two games of VS listed in my journal and I forget which one it was; I won one of them and lost the other.)

The first three of us pay the $10, with Sceadeau in the 4th seat. He opts not to do it (the 5th player does), getting himself 'out of sync' from the buying cycle. Result: he got some nice deals in rounds where everyone else was taking Publicity, and took Pub in rounds when the rest of us fought for stuff. By game's end, he got the Space Age Sports Book AND the Theatre, and he ended up stomping the table, 82-59-53-53-46.

Three games, three losses (what is this, Amun-Re?). But the GM told me that I was still a high alternate (either first or second, I forget which). And with fewer than 25 winners, I'm likely in with any number of winners showing up EXCEPT 20.

Honestly, thought, I thought the point would be moot anyway: the SF round coincided with the second heat of Agricola (which I had committed to play). Specifically, the overlap was with the heat's third hour; I needed only to get my game done in 2 hours ... so I was rather jittery during that heat and I tried to speed things up. (Two players were fine with me, but my LHO was likely irritated by my actions; I half-expected a reaction similar to one a few years ago, but he said he was OK with me after the game.)

The Vegas SF was virtually across the hall from where I was, and I raced over ... to find that EXACTLY 20 winners showed up. My luck from a year ago wasn't with me this time, and my time playing this was up.
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13. Board Game: Automobile [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:194]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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It took me three years, but I was finally able to get in a heat of this game at the Con. I expected little, as I've only played one or two games of this in my life going in.

This was actually the second game of the whole Con that I played (Monday afternoon, right after Amun-Re and before Stone Age). I jumped between Chrysler and Howard the whole game (taking each twice), never took a loan (none of us did, actually), and squeezed out a 4810-4700-4210-3500 win. My first game of Automobile moved me to the SF round.


I held off on mentioning this earlier, but this has to be told.

I had said earlier that Peter Staab won my Amun-Re game, which was played on my set. Well, luck of the draw had me player Peter again on his set of Automobile ... and it was Peter's set again on Stone Age when I won. Three straight games that we played each other, and in each case one of us won on the other one's board! And he was in the first heat of Vegas that night, though we did not play each other for that heat.


Jump to Friday afternoon. (I actually played no game that morning, as I was taking notes for Ken's Le Havre final; he did the same for me with Caylus.) I'm last to pick a role for the first round, and decide on Kettering (i.e., three white cubes). I'm able to get into all three markets by round three (shuttering my midsize factory at the end of that turn), and am able to make the most money on most rounds during the selling phase ... but my ATBO is selling well too, and is able to dump a lot of loss cubes at the end of the game.

The final scores are tallied ... and I win by a mere $70! (Scores: 4180-4110-3790-3430) My first foray into Automobile improbably turns into my first Final of the Con.

Then the inevitable blunder happens.

Those who've read my previous WBC Geeklists know that, for whatever reason, I tend to save my biggest Howlers (to use a European football term) for Finals. And this one was no exception.

I ended up picking 4th again, and opted for Durant (and the first spot on the board). I only placed one dealer as my first move, expecting not to be able to get into the Economy market so soon ... but someone else jumped a spot on the board before it got back to me, and I ended up there anyway. (Note to self: in the future, just place two dealers and risk the loss cube.)

When I built the factory (I could only build one, as I couldn't possibly produce 5 cars when I could only sell one), I decided to put down my parts plant at the same time, simply because I could. At the time, I thought this was a poor move ... but I did produce enough cars there before shuttering, I think 9 cars total, that I made back my investment. So while it may have been suboptimal, it wasn't really so bad. Still, I could only produce one econo car that round (to go with my midsizes).


Note that my dealer, of course, went to the econo section for the round.

We get to round two, and my first action is to place dealers. And I go to place two ... but I put them right where my other dealer is, in the econo section.

For those who don't know: dealers cannot go from economy to luxury, or vice versa. This is why you ALWAYS place new dealers into the midsize area, as they can go anywhere.

Well, my LHO goes next, and builds into the first luxury spot. It's at this moment that I recognize my error and ask if I could just move my new guys back to the midsize section. The other two players have no problem with this (they see it was a simple oversight), but my LHO opponent insists that they stey where I put them.

In all honesty, it's my error and, legally, there's nothing I can do. But I will admit to being perturbed that he wouldn't allow it, even in a final table. (He said that his move would have been affected, but I would have had no problem if he wanted to do something else. Didn't matter.)

This effectively ended my game. By the time I was to move, I could no longer pay one white cube to take the 2nd luxury spot (I had nowhere to sell them); I ended up paying three cubes and went into another econo spot, competing against myself! To add insult to injury, I slashed prices on some of those cars and STILL couldn't get all mine out. I was forced into taking Sloan in Round Three to stop the bleeding, and got Chrysler at the end; I did get rid of all my loss cubes at the end, but not before taking two loans and stumbling to a distant 3rd place finish, 4360-4090-3660-3500.

(Perhaps there was some karmic retribution at work at game's end, when I drew a 2 on the final luxury demand, denying my LHO his last luxury sell; he lost $200 on that, and $40 more for the loss cube. But as he lost by $270, it probably didn't affect the final standings.)
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14. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:6]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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I have not been playing well at this as of late.

Online, I had lost 13 straight games (and 17 of 18). At my gaming group, throw in a couple more losses. And even in a 'skittles' game on Tuesday afternoon (playing against Dan Eppolito, Sceadeau, and Rob Murray) I DFL again, 47-46-40-38. So even though I have high aspirations for my play this year (having made the last three final tables, finishing 4th, 3rd, and 2nd), I don't have high hopes than I'll do so well.

It is during my two heats (Automobile conflicted with Heat 3) that I learn something: there is a huge difference between playing online and against top-flight players and playing those who only get a couple games in per year. My losing streak ended emphatically during Heat 1, 51-32-28-15, and I put up another 51 in my 2nd heat (the one mentioned in the Vegas section), beating scores of 40, 36, and 30. Two wins put me into the SF round.

I got a rematch with last year's winner, Jon Senn, and also drew Rob Murray. (Eric Wrobel was our 4th.) The Acrobat served me well, particularly after Eric played the Market Crier and started giving us free grain. I also used the Hobby Farmer to get some early veggies, and the Schnapps Distiller to turn those into a food engine. But most importantly, I played the blocking game against Jon.

He got the Manufacturer out (after Rob bought the BMW), but I beat him to the Pottery and subsequently laid down the Clay Deposits. He got the Riding Plow out late (he missed that he needed a 3rd Occ when he first tried to play it), and I plowed when I could to make sure he could only use it once. It was still a close finish, but I was able to hold on, 45-41-40-28. For the 4th straight year, I'd be in the Final table. And this time, I was determined to win.


Perhaps due to the company I keep (a number of people in my gaming group have multiple 1sts), I've been fixated on getting a 1st since probably my third trip to the WBC. This has frustrated some fellow gamers, notably Sceadeau, who insists that it's all about positive thinking. 'Go in there like you expect to win', he tells me. But it's hard for me to be positive, as I've been beat down so many times. He has none of that: 'Pick three games, and visualize who you're going to beat at the final table for those games.'

OK then, so I tell him 'Le Havre, Agricola, and Caylus'. And for Le Havre, I tell him I'm going to face Dan E. in the final, while for Agricola, I say I'm going to beat the strong online players like 'NiteArtist' Tedd and 'Legend' Dan, both of whom are in the semis.

Well I don't make the LH final (neither does Dan, shockingly) ... and neither 'NiteArtist' nor 'Legend' make the final here. But Dan E. does! (Hmmm, maybe I got my visualizations crossed.) And I also get Chris Senhouse again.

And this time, I'm taking Sceadeau's advice to heart. I'm ready. I'm focused. I'm IN CHARGE. I even demand not to go last for this round; I end up starting 2nd, and my RHO takes 3 wood first! I'M GOING TO WIN THIS ONE!!!

By Turn 9, my game is finished.

I had such an idealistic start, too. I opted for the Stone Buyer first, as I drafted a number of stone-intensive improvement (Paved Road, Bakehouse, Wood-Fired Oven) and I had a number of TP cards (Magician, Dancer, Acrobat) to generate a food engine. I also had the Wood Cart, which I was able to get out by the end of Stage 1, and figured to catch up on house building before it got out of hand. Finally, I was holding on to the Conservator, figuring I'd never really need clay.

Holding four reed in around Turn 6 (after Dan and my RHO had each gotten a room), I made one bad decision: I opted to build the BMW instead of the Joinery. This was made worse by the fact that Chris had already played the Basketmaker, so he was snapping up reed that I had hoped to get. Worse, Dan got his 4th room before I got my 3rd (and after Chris had built 2 of his own. And, sealing my fate, my RHO had Farm Steward.

I didn't get my third peep until Round 12, after everyone else got to their 4th. I was able to build all my fences (and all 4 stables), but only succeeded in grabbing some early boars (they bred up to 5 by game's end), never got a veg, and finished well back with 36 points. I did finish ahead of Chris, who had a lot of empty spaces on his board at the end and ended up with 31. But Dan (who got to 6 rooms by game's end to gain 3 points for Chris's House Steward, and got 3 more for his own Village Elder) racked up 45 points.

But even that wasn't enough!

I have not mentioned exactly who my right hand opponent was. His name is Eric Ho and, like the three winners before him, is another player at the online Agricola site! (His screenname: pioneere99) And after I got the Magician out, he got out the Puppeteer ... but not before playing the Tutor! He also was able to scrape enough enough stone (despite my buying binge) to get to a 3-room stone house with the Half-Timber improvement. He also tied for the Village Elder bonus, and ended up beating everyone with a score of 48.

So, to summarize from my own perspective: I've now played four straight finals of Agricola (finishing 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and 3rd again), and lost to four different other players at that site (NiteArtist, DagKees, Senn, Pioneere99). This sort of thing just doesn't happen to people, does it? ...


On the last day of the Con, I saw on the table copies of the 1999 Yearbook. (Thumbing through that was like watching old episodes of The Price is Right and seeing pricing games that have long since been retired.) And I came across an entry for a game called TV Wars. And I read about one Mike Destro. And it said that he was playing in his 4th final, and was determined to win it all this time. And he lost.

I don't know if this Mike Destro frequents this site, and I don't know if he's broken through since (or even if he's won tournaments in other games). All I know is, in this one regard, I can empathize.
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15. Board Game: Liar's Dice [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:407]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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The Agricola final was in Ballroom B for some reason, and the last hour coincided with a very noisy round of Ingenious. (I still don't think it was more annoying than the repeated screams of "WALK THE PLANK!" during Pirate's Cove. I got nothing against those who participate in PC, but the mind can become easily distracted during such times.) The ending of our game coincided with sign-ins for Liar's Dice. Well I got nothing else to do after our game, so I sign in and am able to get a seat at Cary's table (Cary being the aforementioned 'DagKees'). Two players get knocked out with everyone else still holding 5 dice, but my luck runs out after that. I'm 4th to go, and bid my table adieu.
 
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16. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:58]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Events at the Caylus semifinal forced me out of the final heat of Puerto Rico (leading to a very quiet day of gaming for me personally that Saturday) and into a heat of this for the first time since an improbable appearance in the SF round some years ago. I was playing the England map and started out in London, building westward while competing with another player who started in the southwest and worked his way east. I took shares early and often, though we all maxed out about halfway through the game, and I watched my RHO get into a bidding war early on. He even went down 5 on the income track to pay for shares; I really thought he was out of the game at that time. But he made a furious push during the second half (he had 5s and 6s for most of the second half of the game; I ran low on good shipments late) and actually caught me by two measures of income, 81-75-54-46.

I forgot how much I enjoy this game. We really need to bring this back to EPGS.
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17. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:97]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Despite being in a 3-hour timeslot, my AoS game got done in only two hours, allowing me a shot at this. I got the first gold colony (and associated early money boost), then shifted to a heavy factory/church strategy while the guy across from me snagged most of the colonies in the game.

My RHO, meanwhile, played the privilege game, taking one at nearly every opportunity. This included the factory and church privileges that were of little use to her but of great use to me; by the end, I could only max out one of the two and missed out on 10 points at the end.

But what really shocked me was her last move of the game. She burned two boats to jump to 'Building' and paid $250 for the last factory (I was ready to get that and the last shipyard for my final move.) By my calculations, she got no more than 2 points (-2 for burning the boats, -1 for paying at least $200, and at most +5 for the one factory ... and I don't think she had that track filled, though I could be mistaken), but her move cost me 4.

It proved fatal: I tied the guy across from me with 124 points, but he had the tie-break edge (distance to Henry). And worst of all, I had $190 left over. $10 short.

The fact is, even IF I had won and made the SF round, the final conflicted with Caylus ... so I probably would have been out anyway. But I really did not appreciate what I considered a kingmaking move.


(Then again, I may have blown the game on my own absentmindedness. At one point, I had two stacks of chips for a building round ... we were using chips instead of the cash the game came with ... and when I went to pay for two buildings, I also began putting my stack of 20s into the bank. I immediately realized my mistake and took back the 20s I put in, but I wonder if I accidentally left an extra 20 on the pile. I'll never know for certain.)
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18. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:20]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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If you've made it this far into my memoirs (such as they are), you may still be wondering why I titled this Geeklist as I did. This game is the reason why.

After an initial showing of over 70 in its first year, Caylus's attendance has been in the 40s and mid 30s since. The last two years had 37 and 34 entrants, and honestly, I thought it wouldn't be back this year.

I can say with near-certainty that it won't be back next year. At the least, not as a Century event.

It was a bad sign on Wednesday afternoon when only one person showed up for the Demo (a Canadian named Matt, who was only there for a quick refresher). The first heat was in Ballroom A (it had never been in there before), and I got there after the Demo with about 5 minutes to spare.

We had 17 entrants.

No former champion even played a single heat. Some (Andy Gerb, Sam Atabaki) simply weren't at the Con, while others (Pete Putnam, Cary Morris) must have had scheduling conflicts. Even last year's winner, Jeff Meyer, missed both heats ... and this was his TEAM game!

(As the GM, I am able to avoid only so many events. Due to my personal tastes, I avoided Le Havre and Agricola altogether and also made sure to avoid Puerto Rico. This ended up with Caylus conflicting with the likes of Egizia, 7 Wonders, Stone Age, El Grande, and other such games. It was my decision and I'd do it again ... but it certainly hurt the figures.)

I drew Tom DeMarco in my first game, used the tried-and-true building track to get my share of 'stone farms', got the Weavery at the end, and won 94-80-68-58. When exactly 12 people showed up for the second heat (including only 6 players who were not in the first heat), I sat out to keep the numbers even.

A total of only 23 different players.

To add insult to injury: of the 7 heat winners (one won twice), one was leaving on Friday and would miss the SF round. Another (the double-winner) informed me that he would likely miss the SF round as well, due to a scheduling conflict. This made for a legitimate chance that only 5 winners would show; if that had happened, I'd've made that the de-facto final table and be done with it.

As it happened, the double-winner DID show up, along with 2 alternates (one of which was Matt, who came to the demo). We played two 4-player games, with the top two advancing to the final. And to give incentive to winning, the winners would go 1st-2nd in some order at the final, with the runner-ups going 3rd-4th.

My table had Rich Atwater (the aforementioned double-winner), Otis Comorau (who won his 2nd heat game), and Matt Paré-Paquin (who had two 2nds). Matt played perhaps the most unorthodox game ever, taking the gate and guild space often and causing chaos in his wake. I got hit early by his moves, but Rich got clobbered late (losing eight workers to the Provost during the course of the game). For my part, I built the Marketplace and all three 'stone farms' en route to a convincing 113-78-66-64 victory, with Otis emerging from the chaos with 2nd.

The other table featured some very familiar faces: Rich Meyer, Kevin Walsh, Jason Long ... and Alex, who entered the Caylus tournament for the first time since I took over. Rich crushed the table (who featured so little building early that he hit the resource track three times during the game) with 95 points, while Jason held off Kevin and Alex for 2nd with 73 (over 68 and 66, respectively).

Thus, for the third time in four years, Rich and I would be at the final table. And I honestly felt going in that one of us was going to emerge as the winner of what will almost certainly be the final time (as a Century event).


I must thank Ken for his copious notes, and intend to post the Session Report at some point over the next day or two, but here's a brief summary of how the game went.

Rich got two batches in the castle early (at the same time), while I opted for just one and a trip to the Joust; we each hit the building track, while the other two built the first two wood buildings (double-cloth and double-stone) with the Carpenter. My Marketplace hit the table next, followed by Rich's Peddler. I had turn order to begin the Wall phase and got the Stone Farm (ffc) out, while Rich hit the castle to get his favor and build the Stone Park (wwf); both of us thought to 'fill the need'. On the next round (after I was beat to the Joust by Otis), I found myself in the castle alone with 6 cubes (2 food, 2 stone, 2 cloth) and a gold. I opted for just one batch, using my favor to get the Stone Workshop (ssc) out. I started the next round going 4th, as Rich and Jason grabbed the earlier stone farm spaces on the board and Otis hit the castle.

It was here that I made my biggest mistake. It wasn't an outright blunder like last year's fiasco, but it was the wrong decision nonetheless.

Not sensing the danger (and holding only 1 stone, 1 cloth and a gold), I hit the double-food building that Otis built right before the goldmine. I needed to go to the castle then and there instead, to guaranteed at least one more batch for a favor.

Instead Rich AND Jason hit the castle next; Rich would go on to dump 4 batches that round for 16 points and a 6pt stone building favor, and another 6pt stone building for an end-of-phase favor. Suddenly I found myself with a tidy number of cubes, a gold, and a 30-point deficit.

It was just too much of a deficit to overcome. The 2nd Tower round (after Jason put a single batch in the previous round), Rich went to the castle; I followed, but he put in 5 more batches to seal the win. For my part, I put in 6 to take that round's favor and beat Rich to the last of the stone buildings that could be built by either of us (neither of us had a cloth for the Jeweler), though it cost me one of my two gold. (The gold was relatively unimportant; on this same turn, Otis followed me into the Castle and put two batches in to end them game. No one built a Residence.)

Final scores: 76-67-60-44. A heck of a way for this tournament to go out on. (Oh, and the shirt my wife made for the winner? It joins its brother in the same household!)
 
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19. Board Game: TransAmerica [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:699]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Sunday, August 5th. 7 AM.

I can't even sleep any more. The week is just a blur.

I never got in a game of Puerto Rico (or Ticket to Ride, for that matter). All I had left was this light game.

In the first heat, I started slow (totaling 9 for the first two rounds) but went out first on the next two rounds (going 2nd, then going 1st to boot; I had the tie-break if I needed it). I only took 3 on the last round to finish with 12, which was low for my table. I made the SF round for only the second time.

The top two at each table would advance, but my boardgaming for the week would end here. I was never blown out in any single round, but I kept taking 2, 3, or 4 and never went out first. I finished with 15, tied for last.

And just like that, my WBC 2012 was over.
 
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20. Board Game: Final Score [Average Rating:7.08 Unranked]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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So what to make of it all?


I cannot and will not hide the fact that I'm still bereft of a tournament victory. I probably have enough plaques to build a fort by now (taking home 3 this year: 2nd in Caylus, 3rd in Agricola, 3rd in Automobile), and won a total of 15 heats along the way (a personal best), but still am missing that one piece to complete it all.

Not that I'd know what to do if I ever did succeed:



(Don't mind the commercial.)


But I had a chance to talk to people during the latter portions of the Con ... and I need to remember that, no matter what, I'm still blessed to have a good life to live during the remaining 358 days of the year. And in that regard, I got no reasons for being envious of others.

I'll pack my stuff up again and go through it all next year. But until then, I got memories to last a long time.


Oh, and winning $50 at the poker tables on the way back didn't hurt.
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